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Con Air (1997)

  Directed by: Simon West
Written by: Scott Rosenberg
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Ving Rhames
Links: Con Air on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 8.50 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 35th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Con Air (1997) is also mentioned in mino's review of High Fidelity (2000) and em_fiction's review of Say Anything (1989).

"Shut UP POE!!!!!" - a review by andy-j

Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) has just been released after serving an eight-year prison term for manslaughter while protecting his wife and unborn child during a drunken brawl. Unfortunately for him, to get home to his wife and daughter, he is made to travel onboard the Jailbird, a maximum-security plane transporting a group of highly dangerous criminals to a new prison.

He's mixing with a dangerous crowd as well.. Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich), Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames), the Marietta Mangler (Steve Buscemi) and Johnny 23 (named after the number of women he's raped) to name a few. When some of the prisoners onboard rise up and take over the plane, they compromise Poe's chances of getting home, but he realises that to outwardly oppose them would just get him killed. So he plays a dangerous game of deception - pretending to go along with the bad guys while really undermining their plans. On his side, he has Vince Larkin (John Cusack), a US Marshall on the ground who realises Poe's situation.

This is a very entertaining action film, with a monster cast. It generally works really well. The premise is excellent, leading to high tension and some good plot twists. The movie doesn't go where you expect it to go, which keeps you guessing. The acting is excellent, particularly by John Malkovich as the unsettlingly charismatic Cyrus, the leader of the bad guys. There are a couple of things about this movie that annoyed me, however.

First of all, the character of Cameron Poe is just.. overly good. Sickeningly, cheesily generically two-dimensionally "good". Now I know that it is actually important that he's such a good guy - it justifies why he makes the choices he does, but I think it could have been handled better. Instead of continually establishing what an unbelivably selfless, giving, caring person Poe is, the makers of Con Air could have instead focused on the fact that he is a US Marshall and as such has certain moral duties and responsibilities. It's more plausible and less schmultzy. He has some absolutely atrocious lines in the movie that are highly cringe-worthy as well, such as "There's only two men I trust. One is me. The other is not you." and the whole put-the-bunny-back-in-the-box routine which would be more in place in a action movie spoof.

This leads me onto my second beef. Compared to the bad guys, Cameron Poe is hard to like. Cyrus the Virus and his crowd are far more interesting, unpredictable, entertaining and amusing. Watching Poe trying to relate to them is like watching a nerd boy trying to act cool around a bunch of jocks or something. Maybe it's just because the bad guys are too much fun, but I actually found myself wanting them to succeed. Nonetheless, when watching this type of movie, you accept that the good guy is always going to succeed, and the fact that the baddies will end up losing out... so this really wasn't a huge deal.

Finally, the soundtrack needs some serious rejiggering. How Do I Live Without You? by LeAnn Rimes is just out of place, and while Sweet Home Alabama is more suited to the genre, I personally can't stand it and it bugs me.

Despite these problems, however, Con Air is still just downright great. In some ways it's a highly unconvential action movie, kept fresh by a very clever premise, some fabulous characters, a good dose of laughs and some great special effects. The niggling little problems really aren't a big deal, and don't hamper the overall quality of a brilliant movie.

andy-j gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 21 Apr 2003

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 1
Number of ratings: 2
Average rating: 8.50
Lowest rating: 8 (by em_fiction)
Highest rating: 9 (by andy-j)
Rating Percentage

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